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Suicide bomb hits Kabul as US defense chief visits

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KIMBERLY DOZIER and LOLITA C. BALDOR | March 9, 2013 12:42 AM EST | AP

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide attack outside the Afghan Defense Ministry on Saturday killed and wounded several civilians as U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the secretary was in a briefing at a U.S.-led military coalition facility in another part of the city when the explosion occurred. He said the briefing continued without interruption.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said a bicycle bomber struck just before 9 a.m. local time about 30 meters (yards) from the main gate of the ministry.

Reporters traveling with Hagel were in a briefing when they heard the explosion. They were moved to a lower floor of the same building as U.S. facilities in downtown Kabul were locked down as a security precaution.